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9 Nov 2023

On Presidents text Annex IX

Good morning Mr. President, dear delegates,

This intervention is delivered on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Oceans North, Greenpeace, WWF, the Environmental Justice Foundation, the Ocean Foundation and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

Firstly, we share the concerns expressed by Germany on paragraph 4.1

Secondly, referring to Part D of Annex IX, Entry into force and contract terms. The proposed term of contracts, as is referenced in Regulation 20, is completely unacceptable.

This amounts to saddling multiple future generations with decades of damage from deep sea mining, irreversible over human timescales.

30 years plus two 15 year renewals or three 10 year renewals could result in 60 year contracts. This is completely unconscionable in this era of our reckoning with environmental degradation and climate change. 

The scale of industrial deep-sea mining, both geographical and temporal, would pave the way for multi-decadal damage in an unknown future. 

It would lock future generations into the schema of extraction, pollution, ecosystem degradation and species extinction, at a time when we know our collective behaviours must change if we wish to preserve the planet that is home to all of us. 

When UNCLOS was concluded 40 years ago, our species was operating in a very different social, economic, and environmental context. 

Today, we have triggered environmental changes worldwide that are accelerating rapidly, and both politics, markets and ultimately our societies will have to respond to those shifts. 

We must assume that the world will look significantly different in 30 to 60 years. We are not in a position to make multi-decadal commitments to an industry which, under this regulation, could stretch far into a future we are unable even to imagine and would saddle future generations with unacceptable environmental burdens. 

This is not merely a legal discussion, but a human one that has implications for ourselves, our families, and our communities. This is a grave responsibility. 

Such a decision requires time, which adopting a moratorium on deep-sea-mining allows for. It is the only truly precautionary approach. 


This intervention is on behalf of Greenpeace, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, WWF, the Environmental Justice Foundation, AIDA and DSCC


Firstly, we object to having been excluded from the informal consultations on the LTC decision. This is inconsistent with the transparency process described in the draft decision itself.
Secondly, we strongly urge Council to instruct the LTC that the use of the silence procedure for substantive decisions is unacceptable. The LTC can, when it needs to, meet virtually, using zoom or similar video conferencing.If necessary changes need to be made in the rules of procedure that should be addressed.


Use of the silence procedure should be limited to procedural matters which cannot otherwise be decided, such as urgent procedural decisions which need to be taken and a meeting cannot be organized on time.


Quite simply, LTC members may not even see the email, or be able to reply in time; it is impossible to assess a quorum via email, LTC members may not be comfortable being the first to interrupt the silence, and it is important to have a clear understanding of how and why decisions are made. If objections are made to a decision, who will stand up and take responsibility? And of course this is all taking place behind closed doors.


Mr President, judging by this draft decision, this body is clearly not fit to regulate. It is not befitting the Council. The current decision is an abject abdication of responsibility by the Council instead of transparency and accountability and clarity in decision-making.


If ever there was a reason to adopt a moratorium on deep-sea mining, we are looking at it.


Dear delegates, we are taking the floor on behalf of the Environmental Justice Foundation, WWF, Sustainable Oceans Alliance, The Oceans Foundation, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Greenpeace.


After 8 days of Council meeting discussing mining regulations, we would like to emphasise that the attempt to rush the negotiation and adoption of the mining code that we are witnessing over the last couple of years is a fundamentally wrong approach to the work of this Authority.


There are too many unknowns about deep sea ecosystems, and deep sea biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are far too critical to just rush this process.


The sheer pace of meetings is already creating inequities among States, which struggle to attend too many sessions every year and process and respond to a phenomenal amount of information and documentation. The same can be said of observers. This process needs to be much more inclusive and respect the interest and capacity of states ,including developing states, observers and other stakeholders and members of the public with an interest in these negotiations involving the common heritage of humankind.


Rushing these negotiations must also not be done at the expense of transparency. Transparency requires that observers not be excluded from further discussions – informal informals must not mean exclusion of transparency. This is about the common heritage of humankind.


In our view, the international community of States represented in this room is being pushed by the interests of a few and the use of a provision, the two-year rule, that is forcing the hand of the members of the Authority under the threat of unregulated mining.


The adoption of a mining code will not solve the two-year rule, nor can it provide effective protection of the marine environment. Mining contracts would be in place for many decades.


We urge states instead to step back, apply the precautionary principle and rethink this process that would pave the way for the start of a new extractive industry in one of the most intact environments on the planet, and focus instead on putting in place a moratorium or precautionary pause on deep sea mining. A moratorium is not an “alternative narrative”, as described by the Secretariat; it is the only responsible way for states to fulfil their obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention to effectively protect the marine environment and numerous international commitments and agreements to protect marine biodiversity.

7 Nov 2023

Thank you Mr Co-Facilitator

This intervention is on behalf of Greenpeace, WWF, the Ocean Foundation, Oceans North, Environmental Justice Foundation, Sustainable Ocean Alliance as well as the DSCC. 

Firstly we support Pew’s intervention earlier about stakeholder participation. Secondly, we support Ghana’s intervention and we strongly urge the need for a formal review procedure. We believe there is value in a formal regular review procedure undertaken regularly, as well as a structured review more frequently if needed. Environmental effects cannot wait 5 years, particularly if an environmental issue arises, there is a need to keep regulations under review. When the need arises to review the regulations, that should not be delayed such as for a five year period review. We would also note that completely removing the regulation would also require the Council to reach a decision via consensus every time to review the regulations. 

Lastly on paragraph 5, we are concerned about paragraph 5 that pertains to conditions for the amendment of regulations. Issues relating to the detriment to the environment must prevail over any detriment to contractors. It is critical that any amendment would be applicable to any and all contracts.

Thank you Mr Co-Facilitator.

6 Nov 2023

DR 70

On behalf of Oceans North and DSCC.

Thank you Mr Facilitator and Fakamālō Atu Tonga on their constitution day over the weekend.

The suggestion in paragraph 1 of contractors paying in advance for proposed damage to ecosystem services and natural capital contradicts Article 145 of the Convention by implicitly acknowledging and accepting damage to the environment as necessary and acceptable.

Not only can natural capital not be valued, but the anticipated damage to the environment is a reason for not doing the mining in the first place, rather than to stimulate an advance payment to facilitate the damage. Such damage is exactly why a moratorium is needed, now.

3 Nov 2023

Delivered intervention OEWG

The debate that began in 2022 on compensation to humankind as a whole, and not simply to contractors, sponsoring states, and the ISA, was an important step forward toward recognizing the obligation of the ISA to act on behalf of, and for the benefit of, humankind as a whole. If the ISA allows for degradation of ecosystems, species depletion, biodiversity loss, or the extinction of species, including rare species or species which have not even yet been discovered – how can the ISA ensure humankind as a whole is compensated for the damage?

These are not hypothetical scenarios. For example, scientists from the Natural History Museum in London found that of the 5,578 species in museum collections worldwide from the Clarion Clipperton Zone, over 90% are unnamed, in effect undescribed and unidentified. Scientists don’t yet know what they are – for example their life history characteristics, how they reproduce, how long they live or their reproductive strategies, what significance they could hold for advancements in marine science and genetic resources, and much less how they interact with other species in the CCZ in forming community and ecosystem structures and functions. Other scientists estimate that up to half of the larger animals discovered to date in the CCZ may be rare or endemic species. The ISA led Sustainable Seabed Knowledge Initiative “aims to describe over one thousand new species from the regions of the Area that are currently being explored for mineral resources and may be targeted for future exploitation” by 2030.  With such a limited knowledge of the benthic environment and even less knowledge of species and ecosystems in the water column, the risk of species depletion, ecosystem degradation and species extinction is very real. And in direct opposition to States’ commitments and obligations to protect and restore ecosystems and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. 

So what is “adequate” compensation for humankind as a whole? How to value future generations’ right to live in a healthy environment, as highlighted by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights? Or will the ISA ignore this, and simply externalize these environmental costs to the ocean as well as to humankind as a whole, for both present and future generations?  All so that a few, mainly contractors, make a profit? This would profoundly compromise not just the ocean but the obligation to act on behalf of humankind as a whole, a foundational principle of UNCLOS.

We argue that instead, the ISA should ensure that harm to the marine environment, biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and species loss in deep-sea ecosystems be prevented in the first place.  To do this, far more environmental baseline information and knowledge is required before an assessment of risks can be meaningfully conducted and informed decisions can be made on whether harm or damage to the flora and fauna of the marine environment can be prevented, as required under article 145 of the Convention. In July we commented on the Report on the value of ecosystem services and natural capital of the Area which concluded that it is currently not feasible to estimate robust, or even indicative, global values for the Area. We were disappointed that after all of the discussion on this in 2022, the study, completed in May, was neither presented nor discussed at the July meeting. We agree with the comments of Brazil, Germany, Costa Rica, Spain, Chile and our colleagues from Pew that the environmental externalities are an essential element of the discussion and that the authors of the Report present its recommendations on the value of ecosystem services and natural capital of the Area at the next meeting of the OEWG. A thorough recognition by the ISA of the interests of humankind as a whole on the collective stewardship of our global commons is paramount if the ISA is to fulfil its obligations. Unless and until such matters can be satisfactorily resolved, we join our colleagues from Pew in emphasising the need for a moratorium or precautionary pause.

2 Nov 2023

DR 44

Madam Facilitator

This is being delivered on behalf of Greenpeace, Oceans North, WWF, the Ocean Foundation,  The Pew Charitable Trusts, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, the Environmental Justice Foundation and DSCC.

 The recognition of traditional and indigenous knowledge in decision-making processes, as per para 1(a)(iiii), is critically important.  We would specifically like to highlight the commitment under the 2022 CBD decision on marine and coastal biodiversity to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples, prior to the adoption of any rules, regulations and procedures for exploitation by the ISA.

We would also like to underline that States have made commitments to halt and reverse  biodiversity loss and are subject to legal obligations under other international agreements, for example the BBNJ Agreement and, in the case of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (article 5(g)), the the second of the implementing agreements of UNCLOS, to ensure the protection of biodiversity in the marine environment. In light of BBNJ and many other international commitments, it is incumbent upon the ISA to ensure there is no loss of biodiversity, damage to the flora and fauna of the marine environment, or degradation of ecosystems and ecosystem services.

On the new paragraph 2(g) 

On climate mitigation and ecosystems and nutrient cycling, we still believe that the obligation as phrased is far too weak. 

An EIA would need to ensure that no plan of work could be approved if it harms, degrades or otherwise negatively affects any of these processes.

In all of DR 44 there is still no reference to cumulative impacts, including for example the impacts of climate change, fishing and noise, and the need to prevent environmental damage not only in areas directly impacted but in all affected areas. All cumulative impacts must be taken into account.

Finally, in relation to para 1(c), science has repeatedly demonstrated that the mitigation hierarchy is not applicable to deep-sea mining due to the unique nature of the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of such environments that are not replicable elsewhere as well as the longevity of impacts. This is why it is imperative to uphold the obligation in article 145 paragraph (b) to prevent damage to the fauna and flora of the marine environment in the first place. 

Prevention of damage sets a threshold of “no harm” – anything less departs from the provisions of Article 145 and is inconsistent with numerous international commitments. The commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss for example, in the Rio+20 outcome document and more recently in the CBD COP-15 Global Biodiversity Framework presupposes the prevention of biodiversity loss in the first place. 

The adaptive management approach referred to in para 1(c) is not applicable to situations such as this where there is inadequate baseline information on the species and ecosystems likely to be affected by deep seabed mining, the consequences are likely to be serious and potentially permanent and thus would be inconsistent with the precautionary principle. The only way the precautionary principle can truly be enacted in the context of the deep sea is through a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

1 Nov 2023

Madam facilitator

It is good to see you in the chair again

This intervention is on behalf of DSCC [and Oceans North]. The DSCC thanks the UK for facilitating this group. We do need to point out that wording such as “the group agreed” and that there was consensus is, respect, not accurate. There was no unanimity in the group. We do note that due to timezones it was difficult for many delegations to attend the meetings. 

In particular, the sidelining of public participation in favour of consultation in the scope of the outcome report is unacceptable. 

For example, we have many times in the group and in the Council highlighted the importance of stakeholders and observers being able to participate in all processes including LTC meetings, the provision and assessment of science and the contribution of cultural perspectives, including free and prior informed consent by Indigenous Peoples. These activities go far beyond consultation. We refer delegates to BBNJ Article 48 of the BBNJ Agreement, which requires the promotion of transparency in decision-making processes and other activities carried out and which requires and the facilitation of participation.

—-


On behalf of DSCC, WWF,  and Greenpeace, 

We want to thank the Federated States of Micronesia facilitator for his thorough and transparent facilitation and thorough report. In particular, this working group has identified the importance of cultural values, and in particular indigenous values, associated with the deep sea as well as intergenerational equity and their cross-cutting nature.

We strongly endorse the contributions of the indigenous leaders engaged into the conversations in earlier sessions  who unfortunately are not able to be here today. We particularly endorse their call for safeguarding cultural values and heritage, the right to free, prior, and informed consent, and the right of future generations to inherit the same diversity in natural and cultural  resources enjoyed by previous generations and to have equitable access to the use and benefits of these resources and in doing so, that no community faces a disproportionate share of environmental hazards.

—-


Thank you Mme. Facilitator, it’s good to see you again. This intervention is on behalf of the DSCC, the Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Oceans North and WWF.

This regulation would explicitly permit the disposal, discharge, and dumping of waste into the marine environment “in accordance with” a number of elements. This would be a systematic rather than an exceptional occurrence, because, as Brazil points out, under the current operational practices of DSM, the activity cannot take place without the dumping of waste products (potentially toxic), due to the sediment plume and wastewater that would be generated from the surface vessel. This habit of spreading our debris throughout the natural environment is characteristic of our broken global system: it is what has led us into the triple planetary crisis we face today. As this regulation stands, even if discharge results in harm to the marine environment, there is not even any requirement for the contractor to stop mining. We would also suggest that it is premature to dismiss the London Convention and Protocol without further consideration and analysis. We need to stop treating our ocean as a dumping ground, which means that deep-sea mining must not proceed unless it can be ensured that there would be no harmful effects, including from polluting discharges. 

This regulation is a prime example of why we are concerned about the potential adoption of the mining code. Because let’s be realistic: a mining code is not developed to apply to a dormant industry, and the ISA’s entire structure and function is weighted in favour of granting exploitation contracts once a mining code is in place. The adoption of the code will simply pave the way for an inherently damaging extractive activity to begin in a context of sparse scientific understanding and harmful operational practices. States do have a right not to adopt a mining code if such a code would impede them from fulfilling their obligations to prevent harm to the flora and fauna of the marine environment. DR50 is just one example of many in the draft mining code that would actually open the gates to harming fragile marine ecosystems. There is another option, an option that has already been tried and tested by the international community in the context of the Madrid Protocol, which places a moratorium of at least 50 years on extractive activities in Antarctica. Similarly, a commercial moratorium was agreed under the whaling convention, and most recently, a moratorium on fishing was agreed in the Central Arctic Ocean Agreement. It’s happened before, it can happen again. It is the best way to truly protect the marine environment. 

—-


This intervention is on behalf of  Oceans North, The Ocean Foundation and DSCC

All performance assessments should be independent of the contractor, including the selection of the auditor, which is instead a task for the regulator – in other words: the ISA. A regulator must regulate.  

This regulation is becoming increasingly weak with each version,  now with proposals in paragraph  1 to downgrade the obligation of the performance assessment from “ensure” to “assess” compliance, and with the intervals between assessments in paragraph 2 now at two years, rather than one. 

Paragraph 5 does not even allow the Commission to require further reviews unless there is an unsatisfactory performance assessment.

This is the Common Heritage of Humankind. It is unacceptable to fail to ensure compliance in protecting the marine environment.

—-


This intervention on DR 55  is on behalf of Oceans North, The Ocean Foundation, Greenpeace, WWF as well as DSCC

This draft regulation ignores the fact that much of the damage inflicted on marine life by deep-sea mining would be technically, ecologically and economically impossible to remediate, restore, or rehabilitate. Deep-sea mining would impact marine life and the substrate upon which many species depend, as well as the water column. 

This fund also raises some insoluble questions: should damages not be payable to future generations? How, for example, can persons affected by damage to carbon sequestration processes be compensated? Who is to be compensated for damage to biodiversity? Moreover, the report commissioned by the ISA earlier this year to examine environmental externalities concluded that it is impossible to quantify the “value” of marine ecosystems and ecosystem services – findings which present a further barrier to this fund being in any way effective. 

This provision also highlights the absence of an appropriate definition of effective control consistent with the Convention, since contractors may have only thinly capitalised shell companies in sponsoring States and then leave when damage was caused, as was noted by the Seabed Disputes Chamber in the seabed Advisory Opinion, as well as a liability regime, as was highlighted by the UK.

27 Jul 2023

This intervention is on behalf the DSCC, the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceans North, Greenpeace, WWF, The Ocean Foundation, OceanCare, AIDA and Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

Our main observation on the strategic plan pertains to a matter of process. The Strategic Plan is an important document in the ISA’s functioning and deserves adequate time dedicated to its development, in order to ensure that all member States and Observers have ample opportunity to contribute. However, in this instance, consultation on the Strategic Plan and revised Strategic Plan was limited, with a tight deadline for written submissions, and overlapped with Council meetings. What’s more, the group of member States initially consulted regarding the Strategic Plan was not representative of the spectrum of opinions that are expressed at the ISA today. We note particularly that the process failed to include perspectives from member States calling for a moratorium, precautionary pause or ban. This movement is real and growing and needs to be recognised in all ISA processes. There was also no consultation of the broader range of stakeholders that have expressed interest and concerns over the prospect of deep-sea mining, such as indigenous leaders and the fishing industry. We are therefore concerned that the feedback received and reported by the ISA Secretariat presents an incomplete picture of the interests, opinions and objectives of the stakeholders engaged in this issue.

In light of these concerns, and given the numerous other priorities of ISA stakeholders at this time, we suggest, like Brazil, that the Secretariat postpone the adoption of the next Strategic Plan to the Assembly meeting of 2025, and after the completion of the Article 154 review. Meanwhile, we would hope to see further opportunities for input, including more comprehensive stakeholder consultation.

Finally, the review of the previous Strategic Plan observes (and I quote) “a marked increase in the pace of the meetings of the Council, ensuring that the Council does not lose sight of the ultimate objective of adopting a sound regulatory framework” (end quote).  Firstly, we observe that this accelerated trajectory is untenable for many member States and further exacerbates global inequities. We therefore suggest that the ISA returns to a more sustainable and inclusive schedule of one Council meeting and one Assembly meeting per year. Secondly, we suggest that “the ultimate objective” is not simply to “adopt a sound regulatory framework”, but to ensure that the Area is managed for the benefit of humankind as a whole and that the marine environment is protected from harm. There can be no guarantee at this point that the adoption of a regulatory framework will achieve this objective. In fact it may achieve the opposite by opening the gates to mining before we even truly understand the impacts. The strategic plan must therefore centre around the precautionary principle and should be based on the decadal timescales that independent scientists inform us will be required to obtain sufficient scientific data. 

27 Jul 2023

Item 8. a. Annual Report of the Secretary General (ISBA/28/A/2) I

Mr President, State delegates, fellow observers,

This intervention is on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Oceans North, OceanCare, The Ocean Foundation, WWF, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Sustainable Ocean Alliance

We thank the Secretary-General for his report.

Two years ago member States of the ISA were delivered an ultimatum: adopt a mining code by July 2023 or be faced with the potential of unregulated mining. In either case, the demand was to start deep-sea mining. But the ultimatum has not worked out. The mining code is far from developed, and a majority of States in the Council have stated their opposition to mining in the absence of regulations. 

The pressure has brought to the forefront a fundamental question: Is the international community of States prepared to unleash deep-sea mining, one of the largest and most damaging extractive operations in ocean history, in the middle of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, in contradiction to their environmental obligations and commitments? 

There is no social licence for deep sea mining – scientists, global financial institutions & corporations, the fishing industry, Indigenous groups, and concerned citizens across the world are saying no to deep-sea mining. Already over 20 governments are calling for a moratorium or precautionary pause; and others, like Brazil, for a pause of at least 10 years. This requires the consideration of the full ISA membership, here at the Assembly. It is an issue of transparency, equity, sustainability, and environmental justice. 

We are concerned by attempts to fast-track the mining code. 

How can a mining code, developed in a rush and in a state of limited scientific knowledge, ensure the effective protection of the marine environment? In his remarks to the Opening of CBD COP15- leading to the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework- the United Nations Secretary General, said that “ecosystems have become playthings of profit”, and that “human activities are laying waste to once-thriving oceans”. Scientists warn that the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining, including loss of biodiversity, would be large-scale, severe, and irreversible on human timescales. 

And importantly, how can mining under these conditions possibly serve humankind as a whole? How can we not embrace the call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: that mining should not go ahead before adequate safeguards exist to ensure such activities can be carried out in a way that respects, protects, and fulfils human rights, including the right of future generations to live in a healthy environment. What benefit can be greater than that?


Instead of a roadmap for a mining code we suggest that there should be a roadmap to build alignment around the conditions and duration of a moratorium or pause. Such a pause should account for the need to build equity and capacity, and empower the sharing of long term benefits from the deep sea rather than short term gains from damaging mineral exploitation. To uphold the ISA’s mandate to effectively protect the marine environment from harm, and to serve humankind as a whole today and in the future, the responsible thing to do is to push the brakes on deep-sea mining, before it is too late. We urge all States to enable/ensure an open and fruitful discussion at this Assembly meeting.

24 Jul 2023

Mr President

This intervention is being delivered on behalf of WWF, Greenpeace, Oceans North, Environmental Justice Foundation, OceanCare, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, The Ocean Foundation, and the DSCC.

This roadmap, negotiated behind closed doors, does not reflect the rapidly growing concern  and opposition to deep-sea mining.

We are deeply concerned over the pressure to accelerate adoption of regulations, standards and guidelines in the absence of sufficient scientific knowledge and understanding. With respect to the Roadmap, we do not understand how States can intend to continue the elaboration with a view to their adoption at any time, let alone the end of 2025. How can States say that they intend, even in an aspirational sense, to adopt text that does not yet exist? You do not know whether the regulations will effectively protect the marine environment, and certainly the regulations cannot effectively protect the marine environment in absence of sufficient scientific knowledge.

Meanwhile, the two-year loophole is still open – there is nothing to prevent an application being submitted. A moratorium is urgently needed.

20 Jul 2023

DR 32

This intervention is made on behalf of WWF, Greenpeace International, Oceans North, OceanCare, The Ocean Foundation and the DSCC.

It is unacceptable for the contractor to be able to not reduce risk to the “point where the cost of further risk reduction would be grossly disproportionate to the benefits of such reduction, and taking into account the relevant Guidelines.” The environment should be effectively protected without cost being a consideration. Art 145 is not predicated on practicability or cost.

Secondly, the provision in paragraph 2  that “consideration shall be given to best practice risk levels compatible with the operations being conducted.” implies that the priority is maintaining the operations rather than reducing risk.


DR 28

On paragraph 3: The applicable standard should be to protect the marine environment from harm, not serious harm: Article 145 requires “effective protection for the marine environment from harmful effects”. This seems to be well accepted so this suggestion should not be controversial.


Item 10: Fifth Meeting of the Informal Working Group on Inspection, Compliance and Enforcement.

This intervention is on behalf of Greenpeace International, WWF, Oceans North, The Ocean Foundation, OceanCare, TBA 21, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Environmental Justice Foundation and DSCC

Thank you Mr President, and we thank the Chair for his report and vice Chair Walker for her work here.

We have four respectful requests.

Firstly, on the pressing need for  LTC to hold open meetings, we note the comments by Germany and Costa Rica in this regard. We note the comments of Ms Walker and look forward to a change in procedure so that meetings are by default held in public. 

Where there are commercially confidential matters to be discussed, that part of the meeting could be closed. We also note the procedure used in some RFMOs to permit observers to observe meetings including confidential information, subject to requirements to observe confidentiality.

Secondly, we would like to repeat our request made last March that the threshold scientific process be open to the public, and our long-standing request that the meetings of the LTC be open to observers, and that observers and other stakeholders be able to submit independent scientific information and advice to the process. 

Transparency requires nothing less. There is also no indication how members of the different working groups will be chosen and what will be the criteria and the process. We associate ourselves with Germany’s interventions in that respect and appreciate Canada’s comments and questions on process. We associate ourselves with Norway’s comments in that regard as well.

Third, we note that there was no explanation of why there was no consultation around the revision of the EIA recommendations, and again emphasise that the BBNJ Agreement, which is now adopted, contains numerous requirements about EIAs which enjoy broad consensus support and should be implemented here.

Also, we note the reference in paragraph 42 of the LTC report to a report on the TMC/NORI trial and subsequent processes and ask that it be disclosed to the Council.

Finally, we note that this discussion we have just had, and the observations made above, underline that the LTC working methods should be a fundamental consideration in the discussions that delegations are having this week about the process to be followed if a plan of work is submitted under the 2-year rule. 

An example of issues within the current process is the apparent continued practice to use the silence procedure for decisions on substantive matters – which could, it seems, even include issuing a recommendation on a pending application, or a decision made in connection with any such decision. We call on the LTC to clarify that this is not the case, and call on them to reconsider the use of the silence procedure for substantive decision-making.

It is fundamental that the Council retains its ability in practice to disapprove an application for a provisional plan of work in order to prevent harm to the marine environment. 

In closing, given the extraordinary influence over decisions made by the Council in relation to exploration and any future exploitation activities, if any, Council should adopt a strong hands on approach to the increasingly important work of the LTC.